Doctor Who is one of the most enduring characters in science fiction and for good reason. For fifty plus years it has wowed viewers with fantastical worlds, outside-the-box concepts and mind-boggling creatures. One of the most creative plot devices the producers came up with was the regeneration.
Ever since William Hartnell had to leave the series due to health issues, the Doctor’s role has gone through reinterpretations thanks to the process of regeneration. There does seem to be one limitation to the wonderful gimmick, however. Throughout it’s run, the Dr. seems to only be played by white men. Now, there is nothing overtly wrong with this per se, but the entire point of the regeneration is that literally anyone can be Doctor Who.
The television landscape is far different today than it was back in the '60s when Doctor Who was first created. Shows such as Blackish and Fresh off the Boat have pioneered racial diversity in the 21st century. Netflix will debut a new Marvel series based on Luke Cage, a character created in the '70s in the wake of the Blaxploitation era of films. Audiences are crying out for something different.
With a concept such as regeneration, writers have a built-in reason to cast non-white actors in the role of Dr. Who. It gives them a reason to think outside the box when conceiving different plots. It also opens the gate to having the character experience old trope through fresh eyes. When CBS brought Supergirl to the mainstream, they reimagined Jimmy Olsen as a smooth, in-control ladies man as opposed to a bumbling white photographer who tugs on Superman's cape — someone that the title character would swoon over instead of "Superman’s pal."
Who says we have to stop at non-white males? Shows such as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have proven that a strong female lead can carry a television show. Julia Louis-Dreyfus just won her fifth consecutive Emmy for Veep (which broke the previous record by the way). Doctor Who itself even addressed the gender-bending stunt recently by recasting the role of the Master as a female role to great critical and fan reception. Why not do the same for the good Doctor? Go for broke.
Doctor Who has been going for over five decades now and shows no signs of stopping. Casting a more diverse line of Doctors can only be positive in the long run. It can appeal to a new demographic that had previously not given a thought to watching a quirky time lord on his wacky adventures around the universe. Doctor Who has challenged what we as a species have thought for decades. The character has lived for over 2,000 years and has met every alien species the universe has to offer. At least twice he has regenerated into people that he has come across in his travels.
Doctor Who has a built-in story device that allows him (or her) to be one of the most racially diverse show on the air. I find it particularly hard to believe that the only people that have inspired him have been middle-aged white men. I don't know the actual numbers (Damn you, math!), but I'd venture to say that it is pretty much impossible.
Let's take a second to acknowledge another sci-fi show that has pushed the boundaries to make huge advancements in culture and society:
What do you think about a more diverse line of future Doctors? Let us know in the comments below!